Alcoholic Beverage Control Law Working Group announces recommendations



April 28, 2016

Beverage Alcohol Alert

Author(s): Isaac Figueras, Jacqueline Sudano

On the wave of ever increasing growth in the number of breweries in New York State, Governor Cuomo announced the final report and recommendations of the Alcoholic Beverage Control Law Working Group on April 13. The Working Group, comprised of experts from various parts of the alcohol industry, was tasked with modernizing New York’s Alcoholic Beverage Control Law, last updated in 1934 – the end of Prohibition.  The proposed revitalization has two key elements: (1) continue to support the growth of craft beverages in the state; and, (2) further “Southern Tier Soaring,” a long-term plan focused on generating economic growth in the Southern Tier’s agriculture industry. If adopted, these recommendations would simplify alcoholic beverage laws and bolster the beer, wine, spirit and cider industry in New York.

The Working Group’s report included at least fifteen (15) separate recommendations varying from large scale recommendations, such as reorganizing the Alcoholic Beverage Control Law, to more specific recommendations like permitting wineries to possess unsealed containers of wine in order to fill growlers (similar to craft breweries). Several of the recommendations would encourage the growth of distributors and sellers of alcohol by consolidating retail on-premises licenses, creating a low-cost importing license for small wholesale importers and lowering costs to obtain licenses for the distribution and sale of alcohol. Other recommendations demonstrate a clear intent to promote consumer sales, such as allowing the sale of alcohol before noon on Sundays, increasing discretion to grant on-premises licenses to businesses within two hundred (200) feet of a school or place or worship, or expanding open bottle laws. Overall, each recommendation has the specific goal of promoting the growth of the alcoholic beverage industry in New York State.

Governor Cuomo’s previous efforts have already succeeded in lowering costs for brewing or making distilled spirits or alcoholic cider in New York State in exchange for meeting certain thresholds of use of New York-grown ingredients. These recommendations seek to have a more widespread effect on New York’s alcoholic beverage industry by also effecting changes on the distributors and on-premises sellers of alcoholic beverages. However, first Governor Cuomo must review the recommendations and make his proposals for reforming the Alcohol Beverage Control Law. We will continue to monitor the outcome of the report from the Alcoholic Beverage Control Law Working Group and provide further updates as they become available.

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